Jimmy Stewart plays 'Scottie' Ferguson, a former police officer who is forced to take a leave from the police department when an on-the-job tragedy that leaves him with acute acrophobia, or fear of heights. As he is pondering what to do to fill his empty days, an opportunity presents itself in the form of an old acquaintance, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore). This acquaintance is very concerned about the mental state of his wife, Madeline (Kim Novak). As Elster tells it, Madeline may or may not be possessed by the spirit of a Spanish woman who, deprived of her child and love, took her own life a century earlier. Jimmy is hired to investigate Madeline's activities, but and soon finds himself becoming over-involved and fascinated by the vulnerable blonde...
Technicolor was formed as a company in 1915 by three engineers, two of them from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the Tech in Technicolor), according to this excellent website. The intent of the two founders was to devise a workable method for filming and projecting color images. The first film from the new company was shown in 1917, but the early technology used two separate projectors and the alignment of the two to form a cohesive image proved to be too difficult for frequent use.
|The Toll of the Sea: red, green, no blue.|
The Viking, filmed in 1928, was the first full length Technicolor film with sound and using the new dye transfer technique that eliminated the need for back-to-back prints, putting all colors on one film strip, although the technology to capture only two colors was available at the time. The new process was well-received and several new pictures were commissioned, but with the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, business took a hit. The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) was the last such two-color film.
Over a period of the prior years, the group had not been sitting on their laurels, and in 1932 they went to Walt Disney to see if his studio would serve as guinea pig for their 3-strip process. Flowers and Trees, a Silly Symphony musical cartoon, was the result. In the 3-strip process, a black-and-white receiver film was coated with a film that would allow it to accept the color dyes. Green, red and blue negatives were also created. Through a special process involving a gelatin wash, complimentary dye colors to the green, red and blue (cyan, magenta and yellow, respectively) were printed on the black-and-white ground film. The accuracy needed for this process was printing within 8/10,000 of an inch. Becky Sharp (1935) was the first full-length, three-strip picture. The last was made in 1953 after Eastman Kodak developed the technology to replace the bulky three-strip camera with a single-strip.
In 1952, a camera had been developed that recorded images to film using standard color photography processes. Although the bright look and high quality of Technicolor remained popular for some time, it was a time-consuming and expensive process, made even more expensive by the requirement that each Technicolor camera was rented from the company and was accompanied by a color specialist and the need for the intricate dye transfer process. By the time Vertigo was made, use of Technicolor was in slow decline.
Links and Sources
Most of the material summarized above came from ten pages of easily understood Technicolor history at the American Widescreen Museum website
I tend to agree with several points about the movie noted here (spoiler)